The answer is Yes, but it needs explaining. You won’t get a toxoplasmosis infection from cuddling your cat in the usual way.
The question in the title is about being infected by toxoplasmosis caused by the parasitic protozoan Toxoplasma gondii. Men and women with protective antibodies will probably be immune to infection. But you don’t know if you are immune. Or a mother might already be infected as around half the human adult population shows serological (serum and other bodily fluids) evidence of having been exposed in the past. The mother may pass it on to her offspring (congenital toxoplasmosis) but this is very rare.
“Prenatal infection may be responsible for abortion, stillbirths and unexplained perinatal deaths” (Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook). This is why some perhaps overly concerned mothers get rid of their cherished family cat when pregnant. But it need not happen.
“Cats only shed oocysts in their faeces for 10-14 days after their first exposure, and once passed, the oocysts only become infectious to people after sporulation which takes one to five days.”
Public Health Considerations
Regarding your cat: prevent him from roaming and hunting as it will eliminate acquiring the infection by consuming infected animals or ingesting oocysts.
Regarding the pregnant mother: get your son or husband to do the cat litter – maybe. One source of infection of toxoplasmosis is a cat’s faeces which may contain oocysts which can be ingested. The answer is to take precautions when cleaning your cat’s litter box (see a fuller list of precautions: Toxoplasmosis Information for pregnant women, which is a reproduction of the Cats Protection pdf file on the subject).
- Wear disposable gloves.
- Dispose of the waste carefully to avoid others coming into contact with it.
- Clean and disinfect litter trays every 2 or 3 days using boiling water and 10% ammonia solution.
- As you can get it from food: cook all fresh meat at a temperature of at least 150ºF and wash hands properly after handling raw meat. Clean kitchen surfaces that have made contact with raw meat.
To recap: you can cuddle your cat when you are pregnant but just take some precautions regarding the litter tray. Note: the image on this page is a modified version of the Cats Protection image on their handbook. Many thanks.
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